BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN — Over 22 percent or 116 COVID-19 cases reported in the second wave have not been linked to any of the 19 active clusters thus far, data from the health ministry showed.

As the number of local cases with unknown origin continued to grow, Health Minister YB Dato Seri Setia Dr Hj Mohammad Isham Hj Jaafar said the coronavirus is “everywhere”.

“It’s not like back then when we were able to control who’s in the circle. It’s everywhere, so we have to be careful and assume everyone is [COVID-19] positive,” he said during a press briefing.

Since Brunei’s second COVID-19 outbreak began on August 7, the country has recorded 513 coronavirus cases after another 65 infections were reported on Tuesday.

The health ministry on Tuesday identified two new clusters at The Mall in Gadong and Belait-based energy solutions provider Aker, with a respective total of 11 and 4 cases.

The Champion 7 oil field added 11 more cases, bringing its total to 26.

Brunei’s largest active cluster at Chung Hua Middle School Kuala Belait expanded to 151 cases after reporting nine new infections.

Three new cases were linked to the Brunei Shell Petroleum headquarters (15 cases in total), while the Dragon Boat rowing team cluster recorded two more infections to a total of four cases.

Other new cases were connected to the Authority for Building Control and Construction Industry, Semporna Enak, Al-Falah/Freda Radin schools, oil firm TOTAL and 635 clusters, which all registered one new infection each.

Four new imported cases were also reported in the past 24 hours — three from Manila and one from Nigeria.

Two people remain in critical condition and seven people are under close observation.

The cumulative confirmed number of COVID-19 cases reached 852.

People line up to get their COVID-19 shot at the Indoor Stadium on August 16, 2021. Photo: Rasidah Hj Abu Bakar/ The Scoop

To date, just 36.8 percent of the population have received at least one COVID-19 jab as the country is still waiting for the delivery of more vaccines before ramping up vaccinations from 5,000 to 10,000 a day.

While the coronavirus has spread across the country, Belait has been the worst-hit district in the second wave of infections, accounting for 50.7 percent of the 516 active cases.

The spike in cases has already stretched Brunei’s healthcare system, with reports of manpower and bed shortages as well as limited COVID-19 testing capacity.

YB Dato Dr Hj Mohd Isham said more than 20 private and retired healthcare professionals have stepped forward to help in the battle against COVID-19, including from the Royal Brunei Armed Forces’ Medical Reception Station.

More than 10 doctors from the Jerudong Park Medical Centre and Pantai Jerudong Specialist Centre have also joined the health ministry’s fight to rein in the spread of COVID-19.

Describing the number of volunteers as encouraging, he said “a few hundreds” of youth and other members of the public have also rendered their support.

Ensure your employees follow safety protocols, employers told

The second minister of finance and economy has called on business owners and employers to ensure their workers adhere to health guidelines to combat the spread of COVID-19.

Referring to an alleged incident where a group of foreign nationals failed to observe social distancing measures, YB Dato Seri Setia Dr Hj Mohd Amin Liew Abdullah said employers should explain safety protocols to migrant workers.

He added that Brunei-registered transport operators are also required to abide by health protocols, including wearing personal protection equipment while loading and unloading goods.